Zoom fatigue is a real thing, backed up by the science behind why video calls are so tiring. Here’s how to stop being drained on video.
On an average day, many of us humans have meetings to attend.
Whether it be school, or work, or with your family, meetings happen all the time.
Greeting that neighbor you see on the way to your car, talking to your teacher in class, communicating with a colleague, they all involve meetings.
For many of us, thanks to a certain pandemic, video conferencing is the only way to meet and communicate with your colleagues or teachers. Zoom is a fantastic example of this, becoming a $100 billion company along the way, gathering tens of millions of new users.
Zoom’s not the only available video conferencing platform, but it is definitely the most popular. For a quick explanation, Zoom or any other video conferencing apps, are used to provide live video and audio between multiple people, with other features, such as chat, participant statuses, sharing screens to the others and more.
The good of video conferencing comes in the lack of needing to go somewhere, the ability to prepare for a meeting seconds before its time, and being able to ignore dressing up nicely.
All of these are apparent in normal meetings, which gives video conferencing software an immediate +1, but obviously the real benefit is you can’t get COVID through a computer screen.
Compared to meeting face-to-face, video conferencing software can immediately feel off-putting.
After a while using this software, with all of the added functions you have to adopt online, tiredness and boredom becomes very apparent. Most people end up either ignoring that feeling, or blaming it on work or school.
What if I told you that might be connected directly to using a video conferencing software, and it’s backed up by science?
Welcome to what many like to call, Zoom fatigue.
Well, how are video meetings different from face to face meetings?
1. Missing out on tons of non-verbal communication like cues and indirect suggestions
Being face to face allows everyone, both the leader/speaker and the audience to see one another clearly, and interpret every little cue and suggestion. Body language, facial expressions, arm movements, PowerPoints, everything. It’s much easier to see this in person, because you can see and hear clearly.
Video meetings ends up ruining this entire part. You can see as clearly through Zoom, you can’t hear as clearly through Zoom, and you definitely can’t see an entire person or group of people. Chopping off your field of view to a little rectangle and reducing your audio intake to what your speakers can produce really affects the quality of non-verbal communication.
2. Being at home can cause issues
Being at home can create all sorts of problems compared to being face-to-face. First thing, imagine you have kids, or think of your kids. If they’re small, and you’re on a meeting on your computer, are they going to know not to enter your room, and always obey that? No, they won’t. You’ll likely end up at least once or twice, with a major interruption due to your kids.
You also have home internet problems, device connection issues, compatibility errors, and the sorts.
Being face-to-face prevents this entire, since you don’t have any sorts of at home issues, whether it be kids interrupting, internet problems, microphone problems, camera, etc.
3. Being able to clearly see yourself is really stressful
I assume most of you that have used Zoom, or something like it have looked at yourself at least once online. I also assume you’ve been worried about how you look online, and since you can see yourself, you notice everything you think is wrong.
That combined with the added focus on trying to interpret non-verbal communication, puts some real emphasis on your face, by yourself.
Everything you see in yourself is amplified even further since it’s you you’re looking at.
All of these issues lead up to an experience that beats catching a deadly virus, but definitely comes in seconds to being at an in-person meeting or conference. The difficulties can explain some maintenance fatigue, but not being tired constantly.
So why are video conferences more tiring than in-person meetings?
In-Person Meetings: The biggest thing, is that during in-person meetings and conferences, it’s much easier to just be there.
You can act like you’re paying attention, but in reality, you can ignore what’s going on as much as you want.
The person speaking can only focus on one person at a time, and there’s also a chance you’re just too far back from where they’re standing to be seen.
You can whisper, you can be on your phone, and if you hide it well enough, there’s zero way for the person leading the meeting to notice you.
This can apply to work, schools, or anywhere else you might have a meeting.
Zoom/Other Video Conferences: Online conferences are straight up harder to just be at.
With up to 49 people on the screen at once, there’s a lot to take in.
Depending on what type of meeting you may be in, you may be forced to keep your cameras on, or you’ll get the boot.
Microphones may need to be kept on, or muted. You might accidentally trigger one or the other.
Everyone can hear what you’re saying at the same volume, even if you just want one person to hear it.
Private messages will be picked up on recorded transcripts for meetings.
Internet issues, microphone issues, computer issues, camera issues, keyboard issues, screen issues, all the issues create their own problems. Things add up quickly.
For normal meetings, you might be told to bring a pad of paper, a pen, your phone and you.
Online, you have to deal with your camera; a microphone; a keyboard to be able to type; a monitor to be able to see; a computer that can run the software, and so much more. It’s stressful.
How can I escape Zoom fatigue?
There’s a couple of quick recommendations and exercises that you can use in order to be less tired online.
1. Focus more on the others in the call and/or don’t look at yourself.
Ignoring the way you look or how you appear to others on Zoom calls, can really help escape some feelings. It’s been proven that looking at emotions that you are making, are more powerful in changing your emotions that looking at someone else. For example, if you looked at yourself happy, it might make you feel happier than looking at a stranger happier. Ignoring the way you look helps to alleviate some of the added stress from seeing yourself stresses.
2. Take a break and get some rest
It’s been recommended by doctors and scientists to take a break every 20 minutes from computers and screens. The 20/20/20 rule as it’s lovingly referred to as, goes as such: every 20 minutes, looking at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. That’s all. Doing that every 20 minutes can help alleviate some of the physical stress on yourself, as well as the mental stress.
Taking breaks is also useful. If you have the opportunity to turn off your camera or disappear for a little, do so. Taking a break from the stress of having to look at every little pixel of emotions is really helpful.
3. Adjust anything you can to improve your call
For microphone issues, trying updating drivers, buying a new microphone, or moving it closer.
For camera issues, clean the lens, update drivers, test it, be gentle.
For screen issues, try getting a large monitor, or making sure display settings are correct.
For computer issues, close some programs or Chrome tabs, and possibly upgrade.
For connection issues, make sure you don’t have many online services going, or update drivers, or if you have the time or money, upgrade to some better internet.
All of these can make a big difference if an issue’s affecting you.
Overall, try to relax. Once you’re calm or suited with being online, focus on technical aspects and issues next. After those are fixed, then move onto using exercises or breaks whenever you can, to alleviate physical and mental stress. Everything can help.
Especially remember, we’re all in this too. Everyone in my family has to use Zoom or some other video conferencing software, and we’ve all had problems. Whether it’s internet, or computer, or boredom, we’ve all got some issues online.